Interactional and synergetic approach based upon problem-posing dialogue and critical exchange, for free and critical thinking through the proactive participation of learners.
Education systems around the world have, historically, leaned towards the didactic approach to education. In this approach, which is still the standard across the world, the teacher, pro-active transmitter, confers to students, passive receptacles, the information and knowledge which is deemed necessary. In effect, this method prohibits students from participating in their own learning process. This does not come without consequence:
It must be noted, however, that the international consensus on this matter seems to lean in favour of moving away from the didactic approach. In New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology, published in 2015 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), for instance, critical thinking is counted amongst the “16 most critical 21st Century skills” identified by the publication.
To thrive in a rapidly evolving, technology-mediated world, students must not only possess strong skills in areas such as language arts, mathematics and science, but they must also be adept at skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, persistence, collaboration and curiosity.
The contemporary literature emphasising the importance of critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and collaboration is, accordingly, nothing short of abundant. Beyond the dawdling operationalisation of such educational policies, these approaches have a particular set of limitations –precisely because they focus on problem-solving rather than problem-posing. As evidence of critical thinking, the problem-solving approach provides problems whose solutions are expected to be elaborated– in sum, students are expected to find the answer to a question. But thinking, as reflected by the scientific method, relates more to the capacity of articulating the right questions, rather than merely finding the right answer. The Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire, in his seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed, denotes the centrality and difference of a problem-posing education:
“Problem-posing education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of men as being authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative transformation.”
This is the fundamental difference, therefore, between the problem-solving and the problem-posing education, as they relate to the didactic approach: the problem-solving approach is no other than the didactic method which has conceded some ground to reform, whereas the problem-posing approach is a veritable severance with the didactic method. This is where the relevance of dialecticism as an educational approach is revealed.
As an approach, dialecticism translates in a consistent engagement in a dialogue with others and critical exchange. Dialogue enables the formal school setting to become a safe third-space where students and teachers may express, discuss, and exchange diverse views and ideas about the world. This dialogue, however, does not imply credulity or naivety. It must result on a critical reflection and, eventually, a critical exchange with the interlocutor enabling the reaching of a conclusion by identifying discrepancies and contradictions. On the other hand, this critical exchange is not to be mistaken for systemic contradiction –to agree, following dialogue and critical exchange, is as much the practice of critical judgement as to disagree.
Unidirectional teaching of knowledge by memorisation, with the student responding to questions posed by the teacher, who knows all the correct answers.
There is a concern for stimulating participation by the student in class, such as through moments of debate held under the guidance of the teacher.
Dialecticism: A pedagogy based on back-and-forth dialogue, study and debate among ideas, between students, enabling them to motivate themselves and become positive change-makers – supporting the development of active citizens from school into adulthood.
Grounded in dialecticism, the dynamics of the formal school setting are transformed. This is not to announce the obsolescence of the teacher or the disappearance of the transmission of knowledge in the educational process. It does, however, imply a transformation of the role of the teacher who is no longer the ultimate guardian of truth and knowledge, which students could today access independently, but a facilitator, a mediator, and a synthesiser –in sum, the conductor of an orchestra. The students, in turn, morph from empty receptacles to be filled with facts and information into protagonists and co-creators of their own education, simultaneously engaging with and critically producing knowledge.
Balanced and Inclusive
Context-centred approach based upon the integration and adaption to the realities, values, and interpretive frameworks of the learners, to develop their sense of co-ownership and co-creation